The Washington Post

The Circuit: LightSquared and GPS, impact of EU privacy laws

LEADING THE DAY: With chairman Julius Genachowski set to testify Thursday before a House committee on GPS and national security, the Federal Communications Commission called for LightSquared to do further testing on its broadband network on Tuesday, The Washington Post reported. The agency said in a statement that the network — which has drawn complaints from a handful of government agencies over interference with global positioning systems — requires more testing to resolve interference issues. The agency has been criticized by some lawmakers and GPS operators for granting a provisional waiver to the company to set up is network. In response, the FCC has stood by its process, saying that the waiver is provisional and that it will not let the network launch without fixing interference issues.

FCC billing protection: Analysts say that the Federal Communications Commission will be pressured to act to protect consumers from misleading wireless bill practices, the Washington Post reported Wednesday. Three of the nation’s top four wireless carriers have moved away from unlimited data plans, and consumers are increasingly finding their bills difficult to interpret. Analysts and consumer advocates are calling for the agency to take the lead in ensuring companies use clearer bills.

“Until this FCC directly confronts the legal authority issues, we wouldn’t expect to see any meaningful consumer protections enacted in the wireless space,” said Derek Turner, a policy research director at Free Press.

EU privacy hearing: The House Commerce Committee subpanel on manufacturing and trade will discuss the impact that privacy regulations in the European Union have on the U.S. In preparation for that hearing, dozens of U.S. and EU-based consumer advocacy groups sent a letter to subcommittee chairwoman Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), saying that U.S. laws regarding privacy “lag woefully behind current technology and business practices.”

The letter calls for a balanced review of the EU’s privacy measures, which these groups say protect a privacy as a fundamental human right.

CVAA implementation: As the FCC moves forward with its implementation of the Communications and Video Accessibility Act — which aims to increase communications access for persons with disabilities — several Democrats in the House and Senate have outlined points they believe the agency should consider.

Reps. Ed Markey (Mass.), Anna Eshoo (Calif.) and Henry Waxman (Calif.), along with Sens. John Kerry (Mass.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.) sent a letter to the FCC Wednesday urging the agency not to narrow the scope of the law or delay industry compliance, and ensure that access to services and equipment is made a top priority. The letter also adds that the burden of access to third-party peripherals should not fall on consumers.

eBay investigation: U.S. prosecutors have reportedly begun looking to whether eBay employees improperly took information from Craigslist during a partnership between the two companies, Reuters reported. According to a grand jury subpoena obtained by the news service, eBay took a stake in Craiglist while secretly planning to launch its own classified ads Web site. The subpoena seeks information from eBay founder and chairman Pierre Omidyar and Joshua Silverman, who represented the company on Craigslist’s board. An eBay spokeswoman told Reuters that the company will cooperate with the investigation and that it believes the claims are “without merit.”

Intel, Google show off tablet: Intel showed off its first tablet running Google’s Android system at its developers conference Tuesday, CNET reported — the same day that Microsoft showed off its first tablet running Windows 8. Microsoft and Intel have been partnered for years, but the Redmond, Wash.-based company has begun supporting a different chipset, while Intel is pursuing a growing relationship with Google. Intel’s Medfield Atom chip will start showing up in Android devices in the first half of 2012, the report said.

Google, Motorola: Google was so eager to acquire Motorola Mobility that it raised its offer by $3 billion during negotiations, despite the apparent lack of another bidder, CNET reported. Paperwork filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission underscore that Google is hungry to acquire patents that it can use to protect itself against litigation. Several top tech companies have sued each other over patents related to tablets and smartphones, and the Motorola deal greatly boosted Google’s portfolio.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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